As we start 2018, we would like to share with you our top predictions for this year to make you aware of upcoming events in the industry, focusing on the UK.
New mobile spectrum at last?
Ofcom first unveiled plans back in May 2015 to auction 190 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands in “early 2016”. The spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band should be immediately deployable by operators to help improve mobile services, whereas the 3.4 GHz band spectrum is likely to be used for early 5G services around 2020. Ofcom consulted on auction regulations in October 2015 and again in November 2016 before publishing them in July 2017. The process then stalled due to legal challenges from BT/EE and Three. However, on 17th January Ofcom announced that it will proceed with the first steps in the auction process, despite an ongoing appeal from Three, with the auction timetable to be confirmed as soon as February.
Looking further ahead, the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019 (WRC-19) will consider global radio regulations, including more mobile spectrum between 1885 and 2200 MHz, in the UHF band 470-960 MHz, and between 24.25 and 86 GHz (mmWave). WRC-19 will also consider enabling contiguous licence exempt spectrum between 5150 and 5925 MHz for improved Wi-Fi services. Ofcom is likely to consult this year on its positions on key WRC-19 decisions, and iWireless Solutions intends to respond. Meanwhile Ofcom will work on plans for other future spectrum changes including clearance of the 700 MHz band for mobile (provisionally by Q2 2020), usage of the 3.6-3.8 GHz band and possible shared access in the 3.8 to 4.2 GHz band.
Are you “5G-ready”?
5G has a service-based architecture enabling greater flexibility and scalability compared to earlier generations. In December, 3GPP, which is responsible for the development of 5G standards, approved the initial 5G New Radio (NR) specifications. This first standard is for the Non-Standalone “LTE assisted” scenario and enables large-scale 5G trials to begin in earnest, together with the launch of “5G-ready” products and networks. Ericsson announced in December that it is to supply 5G-ready components to Deutsche Telekom and to US operator Verizon, with the first commercial launches due in the second half of 2018. 5G core and standalone standards providing end to end 5G capability should be completed by June of 2018 with commercial 5G products available by the end of this year.
The UK’s Emergency Services Network (ESN) will utilise BT/EE’s enhanced commercial LTE network to provide critical voice and data communications for the blue light services. Transition from the exiting Airwave network was originally scheduled to start in October 2017 and complete in December 2019 to coincide with the end of the current contract for the TETRA services provided by Airwave. However, reports emerged early in 2017 of a 9-month delay to the programme, with claims in October of further delays. Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was told by the Home Office in November that the proposed completion date will slip beyond 2019 but did not confirm a revised date. ESN is due for further discussion at the PAC in February, so expect further news coverage on this and related work as ESN transition starts sometime in 2018.
Small Cells vs DAS
Small Cells are taking centre stage these days as it appears to be receiving higher investment than DAS at least in the outdoor environment. There seems to be a shift ahead for DAS and Small Cells in indoor environments – driven by cloud and digital architectures. However, there are still questions around capacity, scalability and ROI.
It is expected that Smart Cities will gain further momentum in 2018. The challenges around a sustainable business model will be addressed – in view of an outcome-based platforms. New data services, street furniture usage and ad-based revenues are also likely to find a place in the pile of options. Green (environment-friendly) and smart street furniture ideas will continue to grow in variety and capabilities. Interoperability between the various systems will become of even greater importance to ensure seamless communication between the service providers and users. Furthermore, utility companies will play a key role in Smart Cities, enabling new applications through smart grid development and sharing access to their network infrastructure. Last, but not least, the government and local authorities will need to identify and agree cyber security standards and data ownership models for public cloud and private data centres, as well as for the sensors themselves.
As the trend for Smart Cities grows, so does the need for Smart Buildings, since buildings occupy around 80% of cities*. There are many drivers for smart buildings including:
- Employee engagement
- Better experience
- Improved productivity
- Attracting and retaining talent
Smart Buildings can provide significant benefits using a variety of different IoT technologies, such as Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS), Energy Control and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) sensors. This then opens the path for better buildingomics, creating a building environment that has a positive influence on staff/inhabitants’ health, well-being and productivity. Currently, Smart Buildings are going through a disruptive phase as it becomes more regulated and the number of wireless devices increases. However, things will start to settle in 2018 and with that people’s confidence in the technology will grow, thus increasing its uptake and implementation.
Smart Cities and Buildings success depends on how robust is its connectivity layer, which acts like the nervous system transmitting information from the sensor to the AI systems for analysis and decision-making. Without a reliable, fast and robust infrastructure none of this can be achieved. To find out how we can help create an infrastructure capable of this get in touch with us today by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 01342 305038.
* Future Cities Catapult